Susan Boyle - I Dreamed a Dream
Martin Luther King may have had a dream, but so did Susan Boyle, the frumpy fortysomething that broke YouTube viewing records with her unexpectedly brilliant performance on the awful 'Britain's Got Talent' earlier this year. It's been a whirlwind year for the West Lothian singer; plucked from obscurity, it wasn't long before she was appearing on Oprah and signing a record deal. Her story captured the essence of 'dreams do come true' that appeals to human nature.
Whether people would be as enamoured with Boyle if she was a Botoxed 48-year-old career woman with an equally impressive voice is a debate that could run and run. To that effect, perhaps it's best to judge her debut album on its own merits, not on those of its protagonist. 'I Dreamed a Dream' will undoubtedly sell shedloads in the run-up to Christmas; a cover of 'Silent Night' and several other hymns ('How Great Thou Art', 'Amazing Grace') will ensure that alone.
The most noteworthy thing about this album, however, is that it's very clear that Boyle may be a good interpreter of other peoples' songs, but she's not a 'complete' performer. The best songs here are the ballads - 'Wild Horses' is weighted with just the right amount of strings and sumptuous instrumentation, and actually works better as a grandiose ballad than as a rock song, while her trademark tune 'I Dreamed a Dream' and an ambitious take on Madonna's 'You'll See' also work well. 'Daydream Believer', on the other hand, is rendered limp with a mournful piano arrangement that strips the arm-flapping joy from a great pop song, while slinky cabaret standard 'Cry Me a River' is a bit too lacking in heartache and pathos to be convincing.
She's done well, has Susan Boyle, but whether she's got the talent and nerve to see her career through to the next stage is something only time will tell. In the meantime, this is a no-brainer for your Gran's Christmas stocking.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Friday 20th November 2009 | Album Review
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